Actor Matthew McConaughey is a proud Texan and native of Uvalde. Unfortunately, his hometown has been in the news for tragic reasons since the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that took the lives of 19 children and two teachers. The day after the tragedy, McConaughey and his wife Camila Alves arrived in Uvalde to spend time with the families of the victims. And on June 7, McConaughey was at the White House, where he gave a moving 22-minute speech in which he called for stricter gun laws and spoke of the young lives lost.
McConaughey, who is a gun owner himself, spoke passionately and urged lawmakers to set aside political affiliations in order to make the country safer. “We want secure and safe schools and we want gun laws that won’t make it so easy for the bad guys to get the damn guns,” he shared.
“I'm here today in the hopes of applying what energy, reason, and passion that I have into trying to turn this moment into a reality,” he reasoned. “We are in a window of opportunity right now that we have not been in before, a window where it seems like real change—real change can happen.”
Throughout the speech, his wife Camila sat to the side with a pair of green Converse sneakers on her lap. As McConaughey explained, the sneakers belonged to 9-year-old Maite Rodriguez. She hoped to be a marine biologist and had drawn a heart on the toe of the shoes that she wore every day in order to symbolize her love of nature. Unfortunately, due to the violent results of the assault-style rifle used in the shooting, these same shoes would be the only way her family could identify her.
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“Many children were left not only dead, but hollow,” he said when explaining the extensive damage that AR-15 riffles cause.
Maite was one of many children that McConaughey mentioned, as he aimed to remind lawmakers of the real people behind the statistics. He also spoke about 10-year-old Ellie Garcia, mentioning that she loved to dance and was active in her local church. She had been preparing all week to read a Bible verse at an upcoming service, but never got the chance.
As he held up photographs and reminders of these victims, the visibly emotional actor called for politicians to act now. While he acknowledged that we need to invest in mental health and safer schools, he was clear that this should not negate responsible gun ownership.
“We need background checks,” McConaughey says plainly. “We need to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle to 21. We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red-flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them. These are reasonable, practical, tactical regulations to our nation, states, communities, schools, and homes.
“Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals. These regulations are not a step back; they’re a step forward for a civil society and the Second Amendment.”
The full text of McConaughey's speech and be found here.